Nagi manages to sell all 100 copies of her doujinshi at the last minute of the event. Once again this is quite some achievement for Nagi’s very first attempt to sell a manga (if you try to make a counter-argument with the June Comisun then you have no idea what I am talking about) so, many congratulations!
What’s more impressive (for me, at least) is that Nagi now understands an elementary truth: the doujin events have all along been about herself – her dream and her growth. As such, it is truly amazing that Nagi finally manages to “forget” about her competition with Ruka. Not only that their bet violates their goal to become better mangakas, but a competition on sales number is stupid in the first place: the market is so big for them that they both can maximise their market share.
One’s success doesn’t always rely on the other’s failure.
Still, there is still a competition going on between Nagi and Ruka, so no matter how stupid it is, they still need to settle this. Chiharu, who presumably has kept an eye on Ruka, notices that the idol has also sold out, and a good 10 minutes earlier than Nagi did. It means… well, according to the rule (singular), it doesn’t mean anything.
People do have a habit to invent more rules if the existing ones do not cover a new situation. That’s not supposed to be surprising – that’s what amendments to legislation are for, after all – but it is very annoying when new rules are introduced to decide who the true winner is when both Nagi and Ruka have sold out. You know, when the stupid Doughnut Gunso can foresee such a scenario, the more intelligent girls in the series should have thought about it as well.
Or maybe a draw is such a stupid scenario that nobody thinks it worth considering…?
As such, Nagi and Chiharu assume that the additional rule is one on “time attack” – that is, the one who sold out first would win. According to their invention, Ruka has won again. Of course, one may point out that this is a “Real Steel defeat” for Nagi (“Rocky” may be more classic, but let’s be more 21st century here), meaning that she is only one step away from victory. Still, a glorious defeat is a defeat.
We will know that this is not a defeat for Nagi later on, so the scene that Nagi swallows her defeat seems a little… meaningless in hindsight. Yet the scene highlights Nagi’s character, so it is still highly significant although consequentially it means very little. Just as the ends do not always justify the means, the means do not always need justification from the ends.
As I am not – and I have not been – doing a panel-by-panel analysis, I am not going to describe the internal struggles of Nagi based on Panel A, then Panel B, and then on and on and on. Allow me to simply jump to my conclusion: Nagi might hate losing, but she is not a bad loser.
Some say that “winners are bad losers”, and there are real-life examples in Sir Alex Ferguson or Jose Mourinho. The rationale is quite simply that people who hate losing, take losing very badly. They yell, they cry, they protest, they excuse… but they never admit defeat and congratulate the winner. Of course, grown-ups may do a little better than this, but the 13-year-old Nagi did react very badly as she lost in Comisun. This time, however, she has done a lot better, even though much more was at stake.
There can be a few reasons for Nagi’s change in attitude, but I think the biggest one is that Comisun has been a disgrace: she used dirty tricks (admit it) and her work ended up in trash bins. It was a shameful battle, and it really didn’t require a bad loser to take it badly. In stark contrast, Comiket has been a glorious battle for Nagi. She has worked hard, she has earned praise, and she has achieved something she truly desired. We can be sure that she must be very proud of herself – and rightfully so.
So, Nagi is taking the pride and glory all the way down to accepting her defeat. She gracefully accepts her “defeat”, congratulates Ruka, and asks her to take good care of Hayate. Somehow, you can see that the “loser” Nagi shines more than the “winner” Ruka, and if I were the latter, I might actually be ashamed of myself – why have I decided to ruin such a good competition by placing a stupid bet on it?
Things then take a sharp and (rather) odd turn: Ruka reveals that she hasn’t sold out at all, and thus she has actually lost. She then delivers a “defeat speech” which is almost identical to Nagi’s – I don’t really blame her for a lack of creativity here, because there is not much else she could say. Idols in my country have little to say even if they won, and they simply thank Person A, then Person B, then Person C, then… “Shit, whom have I forgotten?!” Now that swear word is some innovation…
We can also find a reason for Ruka accepting her defeat, because she has admitted to Kayura that Nagi’s passion for the manga may be one copy more than hers. We may have multiple explanations of her words, but I will take this: Ruka has lost because she thought a little bit more about Hayate and a little bit less about manga. In other words, Ruka’s manga dream is a little less “pure”.
Wait, I thought her manga dream has already dead…
Maybe someone is thinking the same thing as I do, so a certain backside appears out of nowhere and asks to buy Ruka’s last copy. Our best guess, of course, is that it is Hayate. Apparently he has made it just in time to act as the prize for Nagi, but now with his offer to buy Ruka’s manga, he is making things a lot more complicated.
As we now know, this competition is not about a time attack, but solely about the number of copies sold. By having her only unsold copy sold, Ruka would have the same achievement as Nagi at this doujinshi event, and this would mean a draw for them. One must wonder why Hayate would prefer a draw to a Nagi victory. To word it more simply: why can’t Hayate just let Nagi win?
You see, by gifting Ruka a Get Out of Jail Free card, Hayate is preserving Ruka’s hope of winning him from Nagi. “I haven’t lost in the end, so our battle for Hayate-kun would continue!” would be my next line if I were Ruka. Of course, Ruka may not be as shameless as I am, but there is the possibility that she may be. If Hayate has no intention to leave Nagi, why should he give a false hope to Ruka, which would in turn give him even more trouble?
Of course, Hayate may settle things with a sermon on “you have lost in the battle, but you haven’t lost in your passion”, and we should pray that he would settle this properly. Otherwise, do expect me to simply substitute his name with “the pathetic piece of ass” if he ever thinks like: “Oh! I have to be separated from milady! I am going to lose my life in itself! What should I do?”
What you should do is to note my comment: you deserve it.